AUGUST 11, FEAST OF SAINT CLARE OF ASSISI

Today I wanted to give you a gift, the gift of the life of a beautiful saint, Clare of Assisi. Call all your friends named Clare or Clara or Chiara or derivatives thereof to wish them a splendid name day!

On this very day of the patron saint of television, I had a splendid afternoon interviewing Jonathan Roumie who is Jesus Christ in the extraordinarily successful television series, The Chosen, Dallas Jenkins, producer, director and writer of The Chosen and Neal Harmon, CEO of Angel Studios. You’ll love hearing how the name Angel was chosen. And you’ll learn everything you want to know about crowd-funding!

It was an uplifting day all around, in addition to which Jonathan and Dallas had great stories and videos about their meeting with Pope Francis this morning at the end of the general audience. (see Instagram jonathanroumieofficial).

There was a bit of a mystery this morning at the end of the audience and before the Pope came down to greet those in the prima file, the front row. He either asked for his phone to be brought to him or someone handed him a phone after he had prayed the Our Father. He then exited the Paul VI Hall for a period of time that seems to be ill defined – a couple of minutes? – and came back in to greet people.

EWTN’s Daniel Ibanez captured this image. Media tried to get the press office to say something but total silence has followed. I did hear the story from a friend who attended the audience. Why would we want to know? Well, for a pope to ask for or be handed a phone before the actual completion of a weekly audience, a pope who leaves the stage and then comes back to greet people, is extraordinarily unusual, maybe a first time ever. Common sense says it had to be an urgent matter.

Who was the Pope speaking to? One Twitter account showed the following close-up of the phone and the person on the other end was either Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra or someone using his phone. He is a Venezuelan prelate and was named Substitute for the Secretariat of State on August 15, 2018, effective October 15 that year.

The Pope does not look too happy in the photo posted on this Twitter account: Francesco Antonio Grana on Twitter: “S.E. Mons. Edgar Peña Parra https://t.co/mapNBf1Eks” / Twitter

AUGUST 11, FEAST OF SAINT CLARE OF ASSISI

(Franciscanmedia.org) One of the more sugary movies made about Francis of Assisi pictures Clare as a golden-haired beauty floating through sun-drenched fields, a sort of one-woman counterpart to the new Franciscan Order.

The beginning of her religious life was indeed movie material. Having refused to marry at 15, Clare was moved by the dynamic preaching of Francis. He became her lifelong friend and spiritual guide.

At 18, Clare escaped from her father’s home one night, was met on the road by friars carrying torches, and in the poor little chapel called the Portiuncula received a rough woolen habit, exchanged her jeweled belt for a common rope with knots in it, and sacrificed her long tresses to Francis’ scissors. He placed her in a Benedictine convent, which her father and uncles immediately stormed in rage. Clare clung to the altar of the church, threw aside her veil to show her cropped hair, and remained adamant.

Sixteen days later her sister Agnes joined her. Others came. They lived a simple life of great poverty, austerity, and complete seclusion from the world, according to a Rule that Francis gave them as a Second Order. At age 21, Francis obliged Clare under obedience to accept the office of abbess, one she exercised until her death

The Poor Ladies went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat, and observed almost complete silence. Later Clare, like Francis, persuaded her sisters to moderate this rigor: “Our bodies are not made of brass.” The greatest emphasis, of course, was on gospel poverty. They possessed no property, even in common, subsisting on daily contributions. When even the pope tried to persuade Clare to mitigate this practice, she showed her characteristic firmness: “I need to be absolved from my sins, but I do not wish to be absolved from the obligation of following Jesus Christ.”

Contemporary accounts glow with admiration of Clare’s life in the convent of San Damiano in Assisi. She served the sick and washed the feet of the begging nuns. She came from prayer, it was said, with her face so shining it dazzled those about her. She suffered serious illness for the last 27 years of her life. Her influence was such that popes, cardinals, and bishops often came to consult her—Clare herself never left the walls of San Damiano.

Francis always remained her great friend and inspiration. Clare was always obedient to his will and to the great ideal of gospel life which he was making real.

A well-known story concerns her prayer and trust. Clare had the Blessed Sacrament placed on the walls of the convent when it faced attack by invading Saracens. “Does it please you, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children I have nourished with your love? I beseech you, dear Lord, protect these whom I am now unable to protect.” To her sisters she said, “Don’t be afraid. Trust in Jesus.” The Saracens fled.

WEEKLY GENERAL AUDIENCES RESUME IN PAUL VI HALL – POPE APPEALS FOR CONCRETE HELP FOR LEBANON ONE YEAR AFTER PORT EXPLOSION

WEEKLY GENERAL AUDIENCES RESUME IN PAUL VI

After his summer pause of a month that included colon surgery exactly a month ago, Pope Francis today resumed the weekly general audiences and continued a catechesis he had started on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. The audience was held in the air conditioned Paul VI Hall and, though the hall was not filled to capacity, there did not always seem to be social distancing among the enthusiastic pilgrims.

When the Pope entered the hall to great applause, he was wearing a mask but that came off rather quickly. He did not put it back on when he met some of the bishops in attendance at the audience. (photos Daniel Ibanez EWTN)

He began the catechesis by stating, “we now consider Paul’s insistence on complete fidelity to the Gospel. For Paul, the proclamation of the Christian message was his very life. What he preached to the Galatians was in fact the apostolic kerygma, which summarized the fulfilment of all God’s promises in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, was buried, rose on the third day, and appeared to Peter.”

Kerygma come from an ancient Greek word and means “proclamation,” the proclaiming of the Gospel. It is used in the New Testament.

“When it comes to the Gospel and to the mission to evangelize, Paul is enthusiastic! Everything in him is dedicated to this proclamation, and has no interest other than the Gospel.”

Francis said, “This explains why, at the beginning of the Letter, Paul urges the Galatians so forcefully not to turn away from the freedom brought by the Gospel. For that Gospel, entrusted to the apostles, offers to all – ourselves included – the assurance of new life and freedom flowing from the cross of Christ and the gift of his Holy Spirit.”

POPE APPEALS FOR CONCRETE HELP FOR LEBANON ONE YEAR AFTER PORT EXPLOSION

At the end of the audience catechesis in eight languages, the Holy Father had greetings for various groups, as well as a heartfelt appeal for Lebanon:

“In these days, I think especially of the beloved country of Lebanon a year after the terrible port explosion in its capital, Beirut, with its toll of death and destruction. I think above all of the victims and their families, the many injured, and those who lost their homes and livelihoods. So many people have lost the desire to go on.

“During the Day of Prayer and Reflection for Lebanon last July 1st, together with Christian religious leaders, all of us listened to the hopes and aspirations, the frustrations and weariness of the Lebanese people, and we prayed for God’s gift of hope to overcome this difficult crisis.

“Today I would also appeal to the international community to offer Lebanon concrete assistance, not only with words but with concrete actions in undertaking a journey of ‘resurrection’. It is my hope that the current International Conference hosted by France with the support of the United Nations will prove productive in this regard.

“Dear Lebanese friends, I greatly desire to visit you and I continue to pray for you, so that Lebanon will once more be a message of peace and fraternity for the entire Middle East.”

PAPAL CATECHESIS ON ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

Today’s weekly papal general audience took place once again in the Vatican’s San Damaso courtyard on a warm, muggy day that did not discourage hundreds of faithful from climbing the great (and breathtaking!) staircase that brings you from St. Peter’s Square to the courtyard via the Bronze Gate.

There was one person present who was as recognizable as the pontiff dressed in his trademark white and that was Spiderman in his trademark red and blue body suit with grey webbing!   Pope Francis knew who he was and seemed to enjoy their encounter immensely!

It’s a terrific story and CNA’s Hannah Brockhaus tells us why Spiderman was at the general audience: Why was Spider-Man at Pope Francis’ general audience? (catholicnewsagency.com)

Before starting his catechesis, Francis spent about 45 minutes walking around the San Damaso courtyard, greeting scores of people, blessing babies, men and women religious, the elderly – basically just about anyone leaning against one of the barriers. Hands flew out from all directions to simply touch the pope but many today also had pen and paper (or a book or anything the Pope could write on) and asked for – and received – an autograph!

You could sense the Pope’s joy at this encounter. Covid had snuffed out so many meetings since March of 2020 and these are always occasions that popes look forward to. Thus, being in the presence of the faithful is really a pick-me-up for the Pope.

The Holy Father began a new catechesis this week with reflections on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. The Pope explains who the Galatians were and how they had settled in what is modern day Turkey. I found the catechesis especially interesting as it makes Paul and his travels and the people and nations to whom he brought the Gospel very alive and colorful. And I may have enjoyed it because I’ve travelled in his footsteps!

I went on a pilgrimage to Turkey “in the footsteps of St. Paul” a few years back and it was one of the most remarkable trips I’ve ever taken! I was also in Turkey for Pope Benedict’s trip years to Ankara, Istanbul and Mary’s House in Ephesus – more unforgettable days! My very first trip to Turkey was in June 1996 when I was a member of the Holy See delegation to the United Nations conference on Human Settlements “Habitat” in Istanbul. Several incredible weeks!

PAPAL CATECHESIS ON ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

Pope Francis began the audience by explaining that, “after the long itinerary dedicated to prayer, today we begin a new cycle of catechesis. I hope that with this itinerary of prayer we have succeeded in praying a little better, praying a little more. Today I would like to reflect on some themes proposed by the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Galatians. It is a very important Letter, I would even say decisive, not only for getting to know the Apostle better, but above all in considering some topics that he addresses in depth, showing the beauty of the Gospel.” (CNA photo)

“In this Letter,” said the Pope, “Paul makes many biographical references that allow us to understand his conversion and his decision to place his life at the service of Jesus Christ. He also deals with some very important themes for the faith, such as freedom, grace and the Christian way of life, which are extremely topical since they touch on many aspects of the life of the Church today. This letter is very topical. It seems to be written for our times.”

Francis noted that, “the first feature that emerges from this Letter is the great work of evangelisation carried out by the Apostle, who had visited the communities of Galatia at least twice during his missionary journeys. Paul addresses the Christians of that territory. We do not know exactly which geographical area he is referring to, nor can we state with certainty the date on which he wrote this Letter. We do know that the Galatians were an ancient Celtic population who, after many vicissitudes, had settled in the extensive region of Anatolia that had as its capital the city of Ancyra, today Ankara, the capital of Turkey.”

“Paul relates only that, due to illness, he was obliged to stay in that region (cf. Gal 4:13),” said the Holy Father. “Saint Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, finds instead a more spiritual motivation. He says, ‘they went through the region of Phry’gia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the Word in Asia’ (16:6).”

However, explains the Pope, “the two facts are not contradictory: rather, they indicate that the path of evangelisation does not always depend on our will and plans, but requires a willingness to allow ourselves to be shaped and to follow other paths that were not foreseen. (CNA photo)

Francis pointed out that we see “in his indefatigable work of evangelisation, the Apostle succeeded in founding several small communities scattered throughout the region of Galatia. Paul, when he arrived in a city, in a region, did not construct a great cathedral immediately, no. He created small communities that are the leaven of our Christian culture today. He began by making small communities. And these small communities grew, they grew and they went forward. Today, too, this pastoral method is used in every missionary region. I received a letter last week, from a missionary in Papua New Guinea, telling me that he is preaching the Gospel in the forest, to people who do not even know who Jesus Christ was.”

He then highlights Paul’s “pastoral concern,” stating that, “after founding these Churches, he became aware of a great danger to their growth in faith – the pastor is like a father or a mother who immediately aware of dangers to their children. They grow, and dangers present themselves.”

“Indeed, some Christians who had come from Judaism had infiltrated these churches, and began to sow theories contrary to the Apostle’s teaching, even going so far as to denigrate him. They began with doctrine – “No to this, yes to that”, and then they denigrated the Apostle. It is the usual method: undermining the authority of the Apostle.”

“Not only that,” stressed Pope Francis, “those adversaries argued that Paul was not a true apostle and therefore had no authority to preach the Gospel. Let us think about how in some Christian communities or dioceses, first they begin with stories, and then they end by discrediting the priest or the bishop. It is precisely the way of the evil one, of these people who divide, who do not know how to build. And in this Letter to the Galatians we see this process.”

The faithful in Galatia thus “felt lost and uncertain about how to behave: “But who is right? This Paul, or these people who now come teaching other things? Who should I listen to?” In short, there was a lot at stake!!

The Holy Father concluded his first catechesis by noting that, “following the teaching of the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Galatians will help us to understand which path to follow. The path indicated by the Apostle is the liberating and ever-new path of Jesus, Crucified and Risen; it is the path of proclamation, which is achieved through humility and fraternity – the new preachers do not know what humility is, what fraternity is. It is the path of meek and obedient trust – the new preachers know neither meekness nor obedience. And this meek and obedient way leads forward in the certainty that the Holy Spirit works in the Church in every age. Ultimately, faith in the Holy Spirit present in the Church carries us forward and will save us.”

 

AUSTRALIAN HIGH COURT TO HEAR CARDINAL PELL APPEAL – POPE FRANCIS: MARRIED COUPLES, LAITY ARE MODELS FOR THE FAITH – POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP WELBY

AUSTRALIAN HIGH COURT TO HEAR CARDINAL PELL APPEAL

Catholic News Agency reported that “the Australian High Court announced Wednesday that Cardinal George Pell’s application for special leave to appeal has been referred to the full court for decision. Pell is seeking to appeal an August decision by the Court of Appeal in Victoria to uphold his conviction for child sexual abuse.

“His application will now be considered by all the members of Australia’s highest court, and a decision is expected in March or April.

“Pell’s appeal to the High Court in Canberra, Australia’s supreme court, is his last legal avenue to overturn a conviction which has divided opinion in the country and internationally.”

The Full Court of the High Court has 7 members.

Responding to the news coming out of Australia, the Holy See Press Office had this to say today: “While reiterating its trust in the Australian justice system, the Holy See acknowledges the decision of Australia’s High Court to accept Card. George Pell’s request of appeal, aware that the Cardinal has always maintained his innocence. At this time, the Holy See reaffirms once again its closeness to those who have suffered because of sexual abuse on the part of members of the clergy.”

The High Court rejects about 90% of the appeals that come to it.

Following the High Court’s decision to grant leave to appeal, a spokesperson for Cardinal George Pell said: “This matter is now still before the court and so we are unable to comment.”

Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney released the following statement: “I welcome today’s decision of the High Court that it will hear the appeal of Cardinal George Pell against his conviction. The Cardinal has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so, and the divided judgment of the Court of Appeal reflects the divided opinion amongst jurors, legal commentators and within our community.

“Many questions remain, and it is appropriate that these will be examined by our highest court. For the sake of all involved in this case, I hope that the appeal will be heard as soon as possible. The Church will continue to offer pastoral support to the Cardinal while he remains in prison awaiting the hearing of this appeal, and for all others affected by today’s outcome.”

POPE FRANCIS: MARRIED COUPLES, LAITY ARE MODELS FOR THE FAITH

Pope Francis on Wednesday during his general audience focused his attention on St Paul’s journey to Corinth, and the welcome he received from husband and wife Aquila and Priscilla who, like the Apostle, were tentmakers by trade.

Christian hospitality
Continuing his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, the Pope highlighted this devout married couple’s Christian hospitality.

Persecution
He explained to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square that the couple had been forced to move from Rome to Corinth after the emperor Claudius had ordered the expulsion of the Jews. Dwelling on this point in off the cuff remarks, the Pontiff spoke of the suffering of Jewish people down through history. He said, they were “driven out, persecuted” and suffered many brutalities.


The Pope also underlined that the “habit of persecuting Jews is beginning “to be reborn here and there.” “The Jews are our brothers,” he said, and “they should not be persecuted.”

Returning to the theme of hospitality, the Pope noted how the house of Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth opened its doors not only to the Apostle, but also to their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Domus ecclesiae
Pope Francis described how St. Paul speaks of the “‘community that gathers in their house’ which becomes a ‘house of the Church’, a ‘domus ecclesiae’, a place of listening to the Word of God and of celebrating the Eucharist.”

Even today, he stressed, in some countries where there is no religious freedom and no freedom for Christians, Christians gather in hiding to pray and celebrate the Eucharist.

The role of laity
The Pope pointed out that “among the many collaborators of Paul, Aquila and Priscilla emerge as ‘models of a married life responsibly committed to the service of the entire Christian community’ and remind us that, thanks to the faith and commitment to the evangelization of so many lay people like them, Christianity has come down to us.”

Concluding his catechesis and quoting his predecessor Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis said that, “Christianity from the beginning was preached by the laity. You too, the laity, are responsible for your Baptism to carry on the faith.”

Pope Francis also prayed for the victims of terror attacks in the West African nation of Burkina Faso and appealed for the promotion of inter-religious dialogue and harmony. Pope Francis says his thoughts are with the people of Burkina Faso that is “suffering from recurrent episodes of violence, and where a recent attack killed almost one hundred people.”

POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP WELBY

This afternoon, 13th November 2019, Pope Francis received in audience His Grace Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, accompanied by His Grace Archbishop Ian Ernest, Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and Representative of the Anglican Communion to the Holy See.

By the Holy See Press Office

During the friendly discussions, the condition of Christians in the world was mentioned, as well as certain situations of international crisis, particularly the sorrowful situation in South Sudan.

At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father and the Archbishop of Canterbury agreed that if the political situation in the country permits the creation of a transitional government of national unity in the coming 100 days, according to the timing set by the recent agreement signed in Entebbe, Uganda, it is their intention to visit South Sudan together.

Click here for photo gallery: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-receives-archbishop-welby-at-casa-santa-marta.html

POPE’S NOVEMBER PRAYER INTENTION: FOR DIALOGUE IN MIDDLE EAST – POPE FRANCIS ON ST. PAUL PREACHING IN ATHENS

FYI:
On Sunday November 10, 2019 at 16.30 in the Cathedral of San Pietro Apostolo in Frascati (Rome) there will be the closing ceremony of the diocesan phase of the cause of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement. The ceremony will be presided by the Bishop of Frascati, Mons. Raffaello Martinelli. Maria Voce, president of the Focolare Movement will be present.

If by any chance you have plans to be in Lucerne, Switzerland between November 7 and the 10th, you will have an opportunity to meet two Swiss Guards according to a communique today from their Vatican headquarters: “For the first time, the Pontifical Swiss Guard will have its own stand at the Central Switzerland Education Fair in Lucerne from Thursday November 7 to Sunday the 10th. During the training fair in Lucerne, two active guards will be present in uniform at Stand D 2099, in Hall 2, next to the Lucerne Police. They will present the job of the Pontifical Swiss Guard and will gladly answer the questions of interested visitors.”

As I read today’s general audience catechesis I could not help but think this sounds like what is needed in the Amazon vis a vis evangelization. I know it sounds like over-simplification but do we need thousands of words to describe evangelization? I know the Amazon region also need priests but perhaps the seminaries should be open to indigenous males. If you recall Pope Francis’ closing words at the final meeting of the Amazon synod participants, he said: “There was talk, very forceful, of indigenous Seminaries. I thank Cardinal O’Malley for his courage in this because he put his finger on the sore in something that is a real social injustice, which is, in fact, the Indians are not allowed to go on the seminarian path and on the path of the priesthood.”

That was a stunning affirmation that no one seems to have made note of! I was breathless when I read that sentence and spoke about it on October 30 with Teresa Tomeo on “Catholic Connection” and am looking into this situation to find out why and when the cardinal made his remarks (I do not recall this being highlighted at Vatican press briefings) and to look into regional seminaries.

POPE’S NOVEMBER PRAYER INTENTION: FOR DIALOGUE IN MIDDLE EAST

As he does the first days of each month, Pope Francis released a video message with his prayer intention for November 2019 in which he invites us to pray that, “a spirit of dialogue, encounter, and reconciliation emerge in the Middle East.”

Francis speaks in Spanish as a video is shown with English subtitles.

Following is the full text:
In the Middle East, concord and dialogue among the three monotheistic religions is based on spiritual and historic bonds. The Good News of Jesus, risen out of love, came to us from these lands. Today, many Christian communities, together with Jewish and Muslim communities, work here for peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness. Let us pray that a spirit of dialogue, encounter, and reconciliation emerge in the Middle East.

The prayer intentions and videos are prepared by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer.

Click here to see video and text: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-november-prayer-intention-for-middle-east.html

POPE FRANCIS ON ST. PAUL PREACHING IN ATHENS

As he has done for weeks now, Pope Francis today continued his weekly general audience catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, focusing on St. Paul who, in his myriad travels, preached in Athens, seeking to explain the Gospel to non-believers.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” began Pope Francis as he addressed pilgrims who sat through rain and then very blue skies in St. Peter’s Square. “In our catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, we now see the Apostle Paul preaching before the Areopagus in Athens, the cultural capital of the pagan world. In a city filled with idols, Paul proclaims the Gospel by appealing to the religiosity of his hearers and their desire to know the truth.”

The Holy Father explained that, “Seeing an altar dedicated to an ‘unknown god’, Paul states that God, the transcendent Creator of the world, has indeed made himself known, and sent his Son among us to call all people to conversion and the fullness of truth.”

“Yet,” he emphasized, “when Paul begins to speak of Christ’s death and resurrection, his listeners lose interest. The mystery of the cross, in which God’s wisdom and power are revealed, appears as folly in the eyes of the Greeks. Yet Paul’s preaching bears fruit in the conversion of some Athenians, including Dionysius the Areopagite and Damaris.”

Francis told the faithful, “As we think of our own culture, may we, like Paul, be sensitive to people’s deepest yearnings in order to propose the mystery of Christ and his saving love.”

POPE AT AUDIENCE: THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE UNCHAINED POWER OF THE GOSPEL – POPE URGES IRAQIS TO PURSUE DIALOGUE, AS HUNDREDS KILLED IN PROTESTS – POPE FRANCIS BLESSES OUR LADY OF LUJÁN STATUES DURING GENERAL AUDIENCE

If you attended this morning’s weekly general audience, you heard Pope Francis deliver a catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles and St. Paul’s travels and appeal to Iraqis to pursue dialogue in the face of violence in their country and saw him bless two statues of Our Lady of Lujan, one for the UK, a second for Argentina.

POPE AT AUDIENCE: THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE UNCHAINED POWER OF THE GOSPEL

Pope Francis during his weekly General Audience says the Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the Church’s mission.

By Lydia O’Kane (vaticannews)

Despite pilgrims and tourists having their umbrellas to the ready for Wednesday’s general audience, the brief drizzle that descended on St Peter’s Square eventually turned into a clear sky as Pope Francis reflected on his continuing catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles.

He told those gathered that in this book, one can see how “the Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the Church’s mission: it is He who guides the journey of the evangelizers showing them the path to follow.”

St Paul’s missionary journey
The Pope said this can be clearly seen when the Apostle Paul, having come to Troad, receives a vision begging him to come to Macedonia and help the people there. The Apostle, said Pope Francis, has no hesitation; he leaves for Macedonia, sure that it is God Himself who sends him, and arrives in Philippi.

The conversion of Lydia
The Pontiff explained to those present that the power of the Gospel is directed above all to the women of Philippi, in particular to Lydia, a merchant dealing in purple dye, and a believer in God to whom the Lord opens her heart “to adhere to the words of Paul”.

Lydia, continued Pope Francis in fact, “welcomes Christ by receiving Baptism together with her family and welcomes those who belong to Christ, hosting Paul and Silas in her house. … Here we have the witness of the arrival of Christianity in Europe: the beginning of a process of inculturation that still lasts today.” he said.

The Pope went on to describe how, after having received hospitality at Lydia’s house, Paul and Silas then find themselves having to deal with the harshness of prison. He remarked that they go from the consolation of this conversion of Lydia and her family, to the desolation of prison where the key is thrown away for having healed a slave girl in the name of Jesus.

Speaking off the cuff, the Pope said that this slave’s masters made much money out of getting her to tell people’s fortunes.

Even today, Pope Francis commented, “there are people who pay for this” recalling that in his former diocese, in a very large park, there were more than 60 tables where fortune tellers read palms and people believed and paid.

Prison and a jailer’s baptism
By praying fervently to the Lord, said the Pope, “Paul and Silas are freed of their chains by a sudden earthquake. This prompts their jailer to ask how he too can be saved, and after hearing the word of the Lord, he receives baptism together with his family.”

Concluding his catechesis, the Pope underlined how “in these events we see the working of the Holy Spirit and the unchained power of the Gospel.”

POPE URGES IRAQIS TO PURSUE DIALOGUE, AS HUNDREDS KILLED IN PROTESTS

Pope Francis appeals to all citizens of Iraq to pursue the path of dialogue and reconciliation in search of solutions, after nearly a week of renewed anti-government protests that have left hundreds of people dead.
By Devin Watkins (vatcannews)

At least 250 people have died throughout Iraq in connection with massive anti-government protests during the month of October.

On Monday, masked gunmen murdered 18 protesters and wounded over 800 others in the Shiite holy city of Karbala. Protesters said they were unsure if the gunmen were special forces, riot police, or militias backed by Iran.

Dialogue and reconciliation

Pope Francis sent his thoughts to all Iraqis on Wednesday and appealed for both the government and protesters to pursue the path of dialogue. He was speaking at the end of the weekly general audience.

“As I express my condolences for the victims and my closeness to their families and the wounded, I invite the authorities to listen to the cry of the people who are asking for a dignified and peaceful life,” said the Pope. “I urge all Iraqis, with the support of the international community, to pursue the path of dialogue and reconciliation and to seek the right solutions to the challenges and problems of the country.”

Pope Francis also assured the nation’s people of his constant prayer that they “may find peace and stability after so many years of war and violence, in which they have suffered so much.”

“Where are Iraq’s riches?”
Bishop Shelmon Warduni, the president of Caritas Iraq, voiced his appreciation for the Pope’s appeal, in an interview with Vatican Radio.

The emeritus auxiliary bishop of Baghdad called on Iraq’s leaders to stop protecting their own interests and “their own pockets” but rather to think about their citizens who are poorly treated.

He urged the international community to pay attention to those poor people “who studied hard but can’t find work.” Bishop Warduni said Iraqis are protesting to demand that their rights be respected by “a government that exploits its own people. … How is it possible for Iraq to be so rich – so rich – but the people are still forced to cry out for work?”

Corruption breeding discontent
Widespread discontent over economic hardship and corruption sparked the first wave of protests earlier in October in which 149 people were killed. A second wave of anti-government demonstrations began on Friday. At least 73 people have died since then.

The unrest is centered in Shiite-majority areas, and most of the anger seems directed at Shiite political parties and militias, which are often supported by neighboring Iran.

POPE FRANCIS BLESSES OUR LADY OF LUJÁN STATUES DURING GENERAL AUDIENCE

During the general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis met bishops of the Armed Forces – the military ordinariate – from both the UK and Argentina where they exchanged a replica of the statue of Our Lady of Luján, which was brought to the UK by British troops during the Falkland War in 1982.

During the ceremony in St Peter’s Square, two copies were blessed by Pope Francis.

The statue of the Virgin Mary, Patroness of Argentina, will be returned to its native country. A replica will be presented to the Catholic Military Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George in Aldershot, England.

After his installation as bishop of the Armed Forces, Bishop Mason was contacted by Bishop Olivera, who asked if the statue could be returned.

The offer of a replica for the Aldershot Cathedral was also made, which Bishop Paul was more than happy to accept.

The story goes that when Argentinian troops invaded the Falkland Islands in April 1982, they brought with them the statue, a copy of the 1630 original, which is located in the Basilica of Lujan in Argentina.

St. John Paul II visited the original statue in Luján in 1982.

The statue which was left behind in a Church in Port Stanley was then packed up on a military transport to the UK and ended up at the Catholic Military Cathedral of St Michael and St George in Aldershot.

It has stayed there since as a focus for prayer offered for the fallen of both sides of the Falklands conflict.